Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Courtney Milan Proves Her Seduction!

by Anna Campbell

Back in 2006, when I'd sold but hadn't yet got a book on the shelves, Avon ran a wonderful writing contest called FanLit. I made so many friends through that, many of whom have since published and become world famous! Not to mention that many of them are now Bandita Buddies as well!

One of the talented writers I met there is Courtney Milan and I'm delighted that her debut historical romance for HQN is out this month. I'm privileged to have read PROOF BY SEDUCTION and it's fantastic, one of the best books I read last year. It's clever and passionate and beautifully written and features a really compelling hero and heroine. Seriously, you'll love it!

So I'm delighted today to introduce Courtney to the lair. Please give her a wonderful welcome, pour her a margarita, undress her a cabana boy and let's get this show on the road. One lucky commenter will win the brilliant PROOF BY SEDUCTION! Whooo-hooooo!

If you'd like to know more about Courtney and her books, her website is: www.courtneymilan.com

Courtney, huge congratulations on your debut PROOF BY SEDUCTION which is a corker of a read. Can you tell us something about the story and the inspirations behind it?

In PROOF BY SEDUCTION, Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, discovers that his younger, more gullible, cousin, has been visiting a fortune-teller. As a scientist, Gareth is appalled—and he vows to prove that the fortune-teller is a fraud. Unfortunately, “Madame Esmerelda”—actually a young woman named Jenny Keeble—has absolutely no interest in being proven a fraud.

There are so many inspirations for this story I don’t even know where to start. The biggest inspirations for this story, I think, were my two critique partners, Tessa Dare and Amy Baldwin—who pushed me to do my very best, who told me when something wasn’t working, and who never, ever let me give up on this story, even when I was convinced that nobody would ever buy it.

Congratulations again. It's a wonderful book! Here in the lair, we love call stories. Can you give us yours?

The short version is this: My agent sent out my book on something like a Tuesday or a Wednesday in the middle of summer—in fact, not even one week before the annual conference that the Romance Writers of America puts on. I’d heard from others that (a) summer was a dead time and (b) it would take weeks, if not months, to hear a response. So the next Monday evening she called me.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but she told me that she had offers on my book. I was quite, quite stupid. I think I said something like, “Offers? But that word is plural.”

And she laughed and told me that so far, she had two publishers interested and others who were reading and perhaps might come in. I was completely dumbstruck. I had no idea what to think. “I’m not sure what this means,” I finally said.

“This means,” my agent told me, “you’re going to be a published author. But first we will have to hold an auction.”

“Oh,” I said, still not processing what was going on. “Well, then. That’s interesting, I guess.” And I hung up on her and sat in my chair and stared at the wall for a few minutes, before realizing that I had just been extremely rude.

Then, of course, I had to go to RWA Nationals and not tell anyone that I had offers on my book because nothing was settled yet. I was up for a Golden Heart that year, and everyone kept remarking about how unflappable I seemed, but the truth was, I was shell-shocked, not calm. I was in such a daze. I don’t even think I’ve quite managed to come out of it.


What’s coming up next for Courtney Milan?

In September, TRIAL BY DESIRE will be out. The hero of that story is Ned Carhart, who is Gareth’s cousin and a secondary character in PROOF BY SEDUCTION. After that, 2011 will see two books that are codenamed Bigamy and Blasphemy—but as they’re still in early stages, I won’t say too much about them!

You write in the early Victorian era. What appeals to you about this period in history?

Before the Victorian era, it used to be that people lived for generation after generation, doing the same inherited jobs for generation after generation, moving in the same social circles for generation after generation. Then, the industrial age broke out with a vengeance, and the result was a large number of mobile workers with shallow geographical roots. For the wealthy, land lost its value as currency. It was a time of tremendous social upheaval, and over the course of a few decades, long-rooted social traditions just disappeared.

One of the fundamental human hungers is for community, for a place in society where you fit in and are needed and need others in return. For all that people talk about capitalism and commerce in the news, I think what humans most desire is to give. Humans need to feel like we have something special to give, and we want to receive in return. Love is both the most selfish and the most generous thing in the world.

Romance, in my mind, is ultimately about that hunger. It's about finding the person that grounds you in community. I love writing in a time when the very notion of "community" was in flux, because it means my heroes and heroines can not only be missing love in their lives, but often are missing that vital connection to community. The community they would have fit into twenty years ago has fallen to pieces, and the one they yearn for doesn't yet exist.

So they not only have to grope their way towards love, but they have to invent a place where the future stops being scary.

Despite the carriages and cravats, this is, I think, much like today.

In your non-romance-writer life, you have a career in the law. Has that helped or hindered your romance writing?

The great thing about being a writer is that everything helps! If your passion is crocheting, there’s a book you can write about that. If you’re interested in ice-hockey, that works too. For me, my I love science and legal geekery, and those come out in my books. Even before I started writing, I was fascinated with legal history (and American legal history is the same as Australian legal history: that is, we all go back to England to find out how it all started).


In fact, I was always more interested in the history than in the actual law. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that I write historical romances then, right?

Please tell us about your usual day.

In the mornings, I put on my feather boa and then pour myself a mimosa… Oh wait. That’s someone else’s life.

Mine is not very glamorous. I have a day job, so I usually get up around 5 AM to write. I do that until about 8 or 9, when I scramble out of my pajamas and rush in to work, where I am until about 6 or 7. I come back home, spend some time with my husband and my dog, and then I start writing again around 8 or 9. Eventually, I can’t take it any more and I go to bed with a book.

On the weekends, I spend more time writing, and more time with my husband and dog. Right now, we’re teaching our dog how to herd sheep, so every weekend or so we’ll drive down to a farm and get him in front of some big woolly things. Then we go home and I write.

Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Make friends with other writers. They’ll help you keep motivated, cheer for you when things go well, and be understanding when they don’t. I’ve been really lucky in that I have a huge number of really understanding, supportive friends. I think this is true about everything you do—make friends who support you and push you to do your best, and everything else will follow.

Thanks, Courtney! Great answers, particularly your advice to aspiring writers.

I’m lucky in that many of my writing friends have also published books, so in addition to talking about my own book (and let’s face it, that gets boring after a while) I can talk about theirs, too! I particularly love Tessa Dare, Victoria Dahl, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Ann Aguirre, Anna Campbell, Sherry Thomas, Joanna Bourne, Kris Kennedy, Tiffany Clare (most of you haven’t read her yet, but you will in the fall of 2010), Carrie Lofty

So you tell me—given those interests, what book do you think I should read next, and why? I’m giving away a copy of PROOF BY SEDUCTION, so keep the suggestions coming.

152 comments:

limecello said...

Hi Courtney!

(Ok, couldn't resist) :X

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Lime, thought you were having a break from the chook! Congrats!

limecello said...

Hmmm... what to read next? Coming Undone by Lauren Dane. The Awesome Foursome books by Susan Lyons - a great quartet about friends. Lost in Your Arms by Christina Dodd. On Fortune's Wheel by Cynthia Voigt. A Long, Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott. Pigs Don't Fly... But Dragons Do by Mary Brown.
The Witch of Blackberry Pond. The Count of Monte Cristo.
He Said Yes, He Said No, He Said Now by Patricia Waddell. Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle. Every Night I'm Yours by Christie Kelley. Something by HelenKay Dimon- Holding Out for a Hero. Instant Gratification by Jill Shalvis. Catherine Mann's newest category. India Grey's second newest category. Something by Sarah Mayberry, Leanne Banks, Emilie Rose. Tessa Radley. Yvonne Lindsey. Merline Lovelace.

... Yeah I'll stop. (And go read- your book is next up in my TBR, Courtney! Yay for getting it early from the harlequin ebook boutique!)

Also. Srsly. No more GR for me. Someone. Stop me >.<

Anna Campbell said...

Courtney, just this weekend, I read your wonderful novella THE WICKED GIFT in THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS which came out late last year and made the U.S.A. Today list - congratulations! As I told you privately, I was absolutely bowled over by what a gorgeous story this was and I was particularly interested to read a story that focused on people who aren't from the upper classes. Can you tell us more about this story and the inspirations behind it?

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, what am I reading next? Well, I actually knocked some great books off the TBR pile over Christmas. But next - well, WHAT I DID FOR LOVE byu Susan Elizabeth Phillips and THE SECRET OF EVERYTHING by Barbara O'Neal (Barbara Samuels/Ruth Wind) turned up in the post today. They're two of my favorite writers so I think either of those will be next.

Lynz Pickles said...

Congrats, Lime, hola, Courtney! Grr... I can't remember the code for the upside-down exclamation point. My greeting seems so less Spanish now... *sob*

Oh, oh, and congrats on The Heart of Christmas making the USA Today list! That's amazing! (And totally deserved, too. This Wicked Gift was such a wonderfully unusual story.)

I haven't thought about Cynthia Voight for ages. Thanks for mentioning her, Lime--I just looked her up and fuond that she's got some newer books out and I haven't read them! I love finding new books by old authors!

Courtney, have you read Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief series? The fourth book in it is coming out later this year. It's absolutely wonderful, and features everything from romance to political machinations. Lots of political machinations. The books are so wonderfully complex; every time I read them I get something new out of them.

I already have a copy of A Completely Serious Compendium of Utterly Dire Events and it is le fantastique--so serious, so dire, so eventful! *snorts* (So please don't enter me to win a copy.)

Anywho, I'm off to finish Lead Me On! (Which, thus far, is as great as I though it'd be. (Note to self: Of course it is, silly, it's by Victoria Dahl.))

Helene Young said...

Hi Courtney, fabulous to see the spotlight on a fellow 'pixie chick'. Can't wait to read Proof By Seduction!

Loved your insights into community and how the lack of it impacts on your characters.

I've just finished reading Anna's Captive of Sin and loved it. My 88 yr old Mum is also enjoying it after wrestling it out of my hands the moment she caught sight of the cover...

Maralinga by Judy Nunn delves into an era in Australia where we were just starting to pull away from the British Empire.

Sophie Hannah's A Room Swept White is a taut British thriller with enough twists to keep me on the edge of my seat.

And now I'm going to have to hunt down some of Limecello's recommendations...

Jane said...

Hi Courtney,
Congrats on your debut release. I just finished Mary Burton's Dying Scream. Up next are Carla Neggers' Cold River, Stephanie Laurens' The Untamed Bride and Susan Kearney's Rion.

Annie West said...

Hi Courtney,

I love the sound of your books and your titles. Congratulations on such an exciting call story. What a lot of hard work must have gone into your success.
I can recommend Susan Elizabeth Phillips' 'Breathing Room' which is funny and engaging and full of great characters. It must be, as it just took my mind off what I had in store for me waiting for a medical appointment!

I'm looking forward to reading your books. Thanks for sharing.

Tamara said...

Another book added to the tbr pile. Congratulations.

Anna Campbell said...

Lynz, what an interesting selection! They all sound intriguing. You've spoken about those thief books before!

Helen, congratulations to you on the release of your debut BORDER WATCH here in Australia. I think this looks like the most fantastic romantic suspense! And thanks for mentioning Captive of Sin. Glad you enjoyed it - hope your mum is well and truly engrossed now too!

Anna Campbell said...

Jane, I just read Carla Neggers' THE ANGEL and thoroughly enjoyed it. I moderated a workshop for her at RWA and she was great - I became intrigued and picked up the books. I'll definitely read more by her.

Annie, another SEP fan! Yay! Thanks for swinging by.

Tamara, definitely get Courtney's book. It's fantastic!

Emmanuelle said...

Congrats Courtney !!
What to read next ?? I just finished Her Secret Fling by Sarah Mayberry. This was a quick read but WOW !! This woman really know how to pack a maximum of emotion/tension/ passion (you name it) in this smaller format... a must read.
Also read a cute YA Xmas Romance Ex-Mas by Kate Brian. It was super cute and I recommend it.
Congrats again !!

Lynz Pickles said...

Anna: yeah, they're one of my favourite series to nag people about. I let my dad borrow my copy of the first book a while back (and he did not return it in the same pristine condition he received it in, the jerk) and even though it's got the youngest voice of the series, he quite liked it. He's not allowed to borrow the second one until he returns my copy of The Historian, which he's had for at least three months. I didn't know it was possible to take that long to read a piece of fiction!

I've never read one of Carla Neggers' books but have wanted to try something by her for a while now. Would you recommend The Angel as a good one to start with? And I'm totally with you and Annie on SEP--I read It Had to be You and This Heart of Mine just before Christmas and have had to physically restrain myself to keep from buying more of her books. I need to save some money to buy stuff in Mexico, (like, say, books in Spanish... notice a theme about my spending here?) and I may have just bought a new purse and ruined my book-buying budget for the month, (it's made of the softest blue leather ever and was on sale--how was I supposed to resist?) but it's so hard to resist her writing!

Courtney: speaking of Annie, have you read any of her Presents titles? They're wonderful if you're into classic Presents. (Of course, my favourite of her books has never been released in North America. Grrrr.) And I have to agree with Emmanuelle--Her Secret Fling is now one of my favourite Mayberrys. I loved the tension in it, especially in the first part of the book! The hero and the heroine HATE each other at first, which is always fun.

Blodeuedd said...

Oh the book sounds great :)
I do like the sound of the story.

But as for books, well oh my a lot of people already mentioned. Maybe some Tessa Dare, Elizabeth Chadwick, jude Deveraux (depending on what you choose)

Helen said...

Congrats limecello have fun with him

Hi Courtney I can't wait to read this book I have heard so much about it, I will be putting in an order later this week and I will be ordering it. Do you know if it is being released in Australia at the same time?
Congrats on the release and Anna and Courtney great interview Ladies.

I am reading Alexandra Benedicts The Imfamous Rogue at the moment and read the e-book prelude Mistress Of Paradise just before I started this one. I have just finished Robin Kaye's Too Hot Too Handle as well and this is a very good book I think up next will be Pamela Palmer's Passion Untamed the 3rd in her Feral Warriors series and they are sooo good.

I can see the TBR pile growing again with all of the recomendations LOL

Have Fun
Helen

Sharon Archer said...

Hi Anna and Courtney! Great interview!

Courtney, what a great journey to publication - it's a wonder you didn't self-combust at that conference where you knew but couldn't tell!

I'm enjoying all these recommendations - I've added Courtney Milan's Proof by Seduction to my must-buy list, along with a whole heap of other names and titles, too!

I'll assume that you've read Anna's fabulous Captive of Sin. If you haven't read Christine's Wicked Little Game, that's one to add to your list. And I always love an Annie West!

And today I read a SuperRomance by Sarah Mayberry, Home for the Holidays! Just gorgeous!

flchen1 said...

Hi, Courtney! Happy release day!! Proof by Seduction sounds fabulous!

As for your next read? I definitely second all the recommendations for Sarah Mayberry--her books are such good reads. She really packs it all in there! And if you feel like trying something different, I finally tried some of Ann Aguirre's books this year and wow! I also really recommend her Ava Gray title.

Have fun adding to your TBR! ;)

And congrats, Limecello! :D

Kirsten said...

Hi Courtney!
That's a tricky question what to read next... I always find myself spoiled for choice. This doesn't make it easy to decide.

You can get one by Elizabeth Boyle or Celsete Bradley: The duke next door. Suzanne Enoch's To desire a devil. Julia Quinn: What happens in London. Or one by Mary Balogh, she's a personal fav of mine.

I have just recently read Lauren Royal's Tempting Juliana. My sister gave it to me and I loved it. It's funny & romantic and did I say funny. Perhaps you can get hold of one of her books...

Take care, Kirsten

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Hi Courtney, I don't know if you have read any of them yet but Kat Martin has a trilogy, two of which are already out, the Bride Trilogy. Royal's Bride, Reese's Bride, and finally this year Rule's Bride. I enjoyed the first one, waiting for pay day to get the second one.

I really love the sound of your new book and I enjoyed your contribution to The Wicked Gift.

Anna Sugden said...

Welcome Courtney - it's great to have you in the Lair. Thanks Anna for a wonderful interview.

I love your call story! It's so the sort of thing I'd do. *g* Heck, I'd be so stunned I'd probably say something really, really dumb!

I've added your books to my To Buy list - luckily I got some Amazon vouchers for Christmas, so can order away!

What to recommend - other than the fabulous Bandita books *g* - let's see - lately, I've really enjoyed Lorraine Heath's Scoundrels of St James series, Suz Brockmann, Liz Carlyle, Claudia Dain, Terri Garey's Nicki Styx series, Hank Phillipi Ryan's series, Kate Angell's Bat Pack books, Karen Rose (totally awesome!) and Sandra Hill's Jinx series. Oh and Susan Mallery's last series was totally fabulous!!

And, even though she's not in print any more (well, she is but writing as the fabulous Maureen Child!) I totally adore the Kathleen Kane books. They're well worth hunting out! She, Geralyn Dawson, Leigh Greenwood and Stacey Kayne are my fave American historical writers.

I love SEP too - just read two of her older ones, Glitter Baby and First Lady in preparation for her next book. Natural Born Charmer still has one of the funniest openings I've ever read.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Courtney! Welcome to the lair!

I love the Victorian period as well. Thought I'd toss in that not only was society in flux due to the tremendous social changes brought on by the Industrial Revolution - but the clothes were absolutely gorgeous - and sexy! (grin)

I wanted to add Christine Wells as another favored historical author and Susan Heino, whose debut Mistress by Mistake was just released in December.

Loved your call story. Can you tell us how many manuscripts you'd completed before Proof of Seduction? That must have been nerve-wracking having to keep your wonderful news to yourself at National. I think I would have exploded.

Bronwyn said...

Hi Courtney and Anna =)

Well since I've been stalking Anna for a while now, I've read all of hers and would recommend all of them. Same goes with everything Eloisa James (I haven't found out how to stalk her yet) and the next on my TBR pile is called 'The Spy Wore Silk' but since the baby is asleep I can't tell you who wrote it.
I heard today a book called 'Seducing Mr Darcy' is well worth the read but I'll have to wait to get that one. My TBR is going to fall over very soon as will my partner when the credit card statement arrives =)

I have a question for Courtney... Did you already have an agent or did you query to find one before subbing? Did you sub to publishers with PBS first? Okay that's more than one.

Bronwyn.

Susan Gee Heino said...

Courtney! I'm reading Proof By Seduction right now and loving it. Great characters, fun storyline, hot sexual tension, and your voice is totally engrossing. I'd recommend this book for your "What Should Courtney Read Next List" but I'm fairly certain you're somewhat familiar with it already. LOL

It appears your list already contains my faves, and of course I always direct everyone to anything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Plus there are some fabulous bandita books on my list, too.

But let's talk about sheep herding! I've done that with my dog and it's a lot of work. How's that going for you? I'm sheepless in my barnyard right now and I have to admit--I miss the smelly, stupid creatures.

Great job on the debut, Courtney. And congrats on the novella, to. You are really rockin' it!

Miranda Neville said...

Hi Miss Anna, and hi Courtney. Congratulations on your debut which I picked up last week along with the SEP (and it's very hard for me to decide which to read first). Don't enter me for the drawing.

Since you are one witty lady I recommend Tamara Lejeune, who writes Regency historicals for Kensington and is one of the funniest writers I've come across. She seems to exist under the radar - doesn't even have a website. With a name like that I strongly suspect she's someone in disguise.

Susan Sey said...

Good morning, Anna and Courtney! Oh, how I love a good call story--thanks for sharing yours, Courtney!

And I would have a suggestion for the next book you read, but every time somebody asks me that question, I say, "I've heard wonderful things about Courtney Milan's Proof by Seduction." And I think you've probably already read that one. :-)

It's sitting on my TBR pile as we speak, right underneath Susan Gee Heino's Mistress by Mistake. What a lovely January I'm going to have! Thanks!

PJ said...

Morning, Courtney! Congrats on the release of PROOF BY SEDUCTION. As you know, I *loved* this book! Can't wait for Ned's story to hit the shelves!

I've been on a bit of a reading marathon lately - making up for all the books I didn't get to over the holidays. I loved Forbidden Falls, Robyn Carr's latest in her Virgin River series. The hero is a minister and the heroine is a smart-mouthed ex-stripper. Gotta love that combo! Also The Sweethearts' Knitting Club by Lori Wilde. This one features a bad boy ex-con who roars back into town to claim the good girl he's always loved.

Another historical debut that I couldn't put down is Sinful Surrender by Beverley Kendall. The two of you really rocked the January debuts!

Zoe Archer has a novella titled "The Undying Heart" in the Brava anthology, Half Past Dead that really drew me in. It's not my usual fare (the hero is undead) but her writing is wonderful, the characters complex and the storyline very intriguing. It's the prequel to a new series from Archer coming out later this year. I've already marked the dates on my calendar.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Courtney!! Great to see you here! Welcome to the Lair and congrats on the release of Proof of Seduction!

Anna, great interview. :>

Sarah Simas said...

HI Courtney and Anna!!

Awesome interview!

I loved reading your story about when you got the call, Courtney. How exciting!

I will definitely be adding your titles to my TBB list. Right now, I'm reading Tessa Dare's, Surrender To A Siren. Next up, is The Spy by Celeste Bradley. I'm trying to broaden my author list this year, so I'll be writing down some of the titles everyone is dishing about. Thanks! :)

~Drew said...

Hi Courtney and Anna!

I was so excited to see you here today, as I ADORE the Victorian Age, for all the reasons you mentioned, plus, I am fascinated by the thin veneer of society and proper behaviors, when in reality there was 1 prostitute for every 4-5 men in London, and boy, did they visit them!
Everything in flux, as you said.
Your book sounds wonderful!

And you are so right about having support of fellow writers, I formed a 'critter' group with two other ladies, and we support, critique, and share laughter and tears while writing away. We also do 'book club' once a month with another lady that is a lot of fun.
(Hey Anna, my choice was "Captive of Sin!")

What do I recommend? I got a Ton of books for Xmas, I just finished 'Mistletoe Magic' by Sophia James, I love her writing, her "Border Lord" last year was also great.
I started reading last night 'Wild Heart' by Lori Brighton (I heard about her here!) And I am captivated already!
Also I recommend Eve Silver's 'Seduced By A Stranger' I have all of Eve's books, juicy, Gothic, historical, romance, what's not to love?
I got to admit, my TBR pile goes right to the ceiling, but I will certainly be looking for yours to add to the mix! ~Cheers

~Drew said...

Just went back and read some of the comments, (I know, I should do that first, LOL!) And I too, am curious about the agent thing that Bronwyn asked, Anna, maybe you can tell us your opinion too.
I have heard so many different opinions on this.

Christina Phillips said...

Courtney, your Call story made me laugh! So funny. I've seen Proof by Seduction around the blogosphere over the last few days and can't wait to read it!

I've just finished reading Tracey O'Hara's Night's Cold Kiss. In my tbr I have Anna's Captive of Sin, Christine Wells Wicked Little Game, Denise Rossetti's The Flame and the Shadow and Erica Hayes Shadowfae (just realised I'm in the middle of an Aussie-fest here!!)

Courtney Milan said...

Good morning Banditas! I'm sorry to be so late, but this is a combination of (a) living on the West Coast, and (b) having had friends over all weekend, and so magically having fallen asleep very very early last night. Apparently my husband had to put me to bed!

SO. Going on to answer stuff!

limecello said...

Anna - I was. Am. Trying to. NO MORE GR! >.< Thanks for pointing that out. :D Keeping me honest.

Lynz- ooo I hope you enjoy them! I love finding new/old books too. :)

Helene - yay! You definitely should ;) Hopefully you like them! :X

Courtney Milan said...

So my typing is currently being hampered by an armload of cat. He's fairly certain he is moe important than anything else in my life, and he keeps trying to stop me from typing. Sooo if this takes me a while, it's because I'm operating on one hand.

limecello, this is an awesome list, and I've only read a handful of them (The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Count of Monte Cristo, Homicide in Hardcover, and about half of the categories...). I am going to have to go on a serious spree!

Thanks so much!

Courtney Milan said...

Anna, thanks so much for your compliments on my novella! The truth of the matter is, after my editor bought my book they called and asked me to write a novella prequel to it.

And I said, "Well, the only happily married character in my book is Mr. White, Gareth's man of business--how about him?" My editor said, "Right-o!" and that's how we got in business.

The main inspiration I had for the novella is actually a spoiler. But suffice to say, there's a certain trope--a story in which a woman's brother has a debt held by some man, and she has sex with him to pay it off--and my lawyer self has read it and nitpicked the scenario one too many times.

;)

Courtney Milan said...

Lynz, I haven't read anything by Megan Whalen Turner at all, but I've heard wonderful things about her from so many quarters.

(The cat has gotten disgusted with my insistence that I peck away, and is now sitting two feet away from me, back to me, to register his disapproval. But at least this means I can type with two hands, so this will continue apace!)

Helene, I adore everything by Anna Campbell, and Charis and Gideon really left a mark on me. Which you can tell because I actually remembered their names without looking them up. I can't even remember the names of some of my co-workers some days, so this is huge.

And Maralinga sounds awesome. I just looked for it on amazon.com but it didn't show up--I suspect it may not have come out in the US. Boo on that!

Courtney Milan said...

Hi Jane,

I have been meaning to read Carla Neggers ever since she (a) won the RITA and (b) read a friend's MS and loved it, so I'm interested what you have to say about the book. Any suggestions as to which one to start with?

Courtney Milan said...

Hi Annie!

So excited to see you here--I've read all your Harlequin Presents, except the ones that aren't out in the US yet, and love them all. (Which is, of course, why I keep reading them.) You were totally my gateway Harlequin Presents author--the first one I read on Anna Campbell's recommendation, but definitely not the last!

Courtney Milan said...

Hi Tamara, thanks for thinking of this.

Anna, I've been wanting to get a copy of Helene Young's book here in the US, but I don't even know how to do it. It's one of those things where if Amazon doesn't have it, I'm completely flummoxed as to how to proceed.

Anyone have any ideas?

Courtney Milan said...

Emmanuelle,

I've read Sarah Mayberry before, but not that particular one. I'll have to grab it.

I love the shorter formats for when I'm really busy. I prefer to read books in one sitting, but when I have a lot on my plate, that just is not about to happen. But I can finish a category before I go to bed.

I love it!

Courtney Milan said...

Lynz, aha! I should have read farther to see if Carla Neggers was new to you, too. Apparently not. Oops!

I adore SEP--even though I hate some of her books. For me she is really hit or miss, and I do mean hit or miss. When she hits, it is a huge bombshell and I read and reread and reread and hug the book very gently. When she misses, I'm infuriated. Of course, I've met people who love the books I hate and vice versa--I just think she is good at getting an emotional reaction out of people, which is a huge talent.

And Lynz, I've read all of Annie West's books! They are all absolutely awesome. And now I'm definitely going to have to get Her Secret Fling, as soon as I am able to do so.

(Confession: On New Year's Eve someone stole my bag with my laptop, my Kindle, and my wallet--so right now I have no credit cards, no ATM cards, and no e-reader--which means I can't buy books unless I want to write a check... but as my replacement ID hasn't yet arrived, nobody will accept it. Good for my budget; bad for my mental health. Luckily I had a huge store of a TBR pile...)

Courtney Milan said...

Helen,

There is supposed to be an Australia/New Zealand version of this book (and a UK version, and versions in French and Polish and Japanese), and my editor said it would be coming out in "2010"--but 2010 is a whole year, and I don't have more specifics yet.

HOWEVER. I will find out! If you want to get a brief e-mail reminder when it comes out in Australia, I have country-specific newsletters:

http://www.courtneymilan.com/international.php

Courtney Milan said...

Sharon,

I love Christine Wells! I've enjoyed her books from the start, but I think Wicked Little Game is her best yet--beautifully written, with that gorgeous emotional core.

Sigh!

Courtney Milan said...

flchen1,

Not to gloat, but Ann Aguirre let me read an early copy of Skin Tight. Which I did, yesterday. And... wow. I already need to read it again.

I'm getting the impression, though, that I need to read more Sarah Mayberry!

Courtney Milan said...

Hi Dianna,

I've seen Kat Martin's book everywhere--and I bought a copy of the first one but I have to admit I haven't read it yet. That will have to be remedied, and soon!

Margay said...

Have you read anything by Janet Mullany or Tracy Anne Warren? I really like both of their writing styles.
Margay

MsHellion said...

Hmm. I'm not sure I can help. The books I've read recently are older books. *LOL*

I read "The Care and Taming of a Rogue" by Suzanne Enoch (Oct 09), and I thought it was very good. It was a Regency set novel, but the hero was an explorer of the Congo--so it felt very fresh and new. Plus he was very alpha. *LOL* I loved how no one ever wanted the heroine, but he only had eyes for her and couldn't understand why no one else had been after her. *LOL*

I've been glomming Lorraine Heath's Scoundrel Series. Very, very good. I even read them out of order and loved them. *LOL* Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel; Between the Devil and Desire; In Bed with the Devil; Surrender to the Devil.

And of course, I'm rereading the third in the Little Lady Agency series, Little Lady and the Prince (contemporary), because I adore Nelson. So if you haven't read the Little Lady series yet, you must! *LOL* Nelson is adorable!

Courtney Milan said...

Anna,

Maureen Child is in my critique partner's chapter, and so I've met her--she's just a wonderful person. :)

I haven't read Terri Garey yet, but I feel like this must be some type of crime on my part so maybe I shouldn't admit to that. :(

PJ said...

Courtney, you should be able to order Helene's book from bookdepository.com once it releases. It's a great site with worldwide free shipping.

Gwen Hayes said...

Great interview!
I am loving your book so far, Courtney. Next on my TBR is....I'm not sure. I have a gazillion books on my phone now and the genres are all over the place. Maybe I'll close my eyes, spin my phone, and touch the screen.

Courtney Milan said...

Donna,

I love YOUR books, too! I've been a big fan since THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY, which I thought was both sweet and sexy, and both funny and touching.

Susan Gee Heino is one of my fellow pixies (2008 Golden Heart finalists), and so I got her book the day it came out. Do not read it while drinking, unless you're okay with snorting through the nose.

As for me... It's hard to judge, because PROOF BY SEDUCTION is a rewrite (and I mean a complete rewrite) of my very first book. When the book went on submission, there were maybe 300 words in common; and then those 300 words all got deleted at the suggestion of my editor.

I think this probably makes it my third book, then? The first book I wrote had Gareth as a character, but he was very different; and a heroine named Claire Cunningham, who was a not very interesting debutante.

It got spiced up massively.

Courtney Milan said...

Bronwyn,

I can tell you who wrote "The Spy Wore Silk"! That's Andrea Pickens.

See? I read way too many historicals.

Bronwyn, I found an agent before anything went to editors. I was really lucky in that I got a client recommendation for my top-choice agent, and that helped move the process along a lot quicker than it might otherwise have done.

Courtney Milan said...

Susan,

Sheep herding!

My dog is very, very smart. Very VERY smart. And he has massive sheep herding instincts--his dad is a champion herder, and his great-grand-dad was a stock dog (who herded cattle), and one of his brothers got sent to a cattle ranch in Texas and one of his sisters got sent to a sheep farm in New Mexico.

Which is by way of saying that there's nothing to teach this dog that he doesn't already know somewhere inside of him. We pretty much put him in front of the sheep and he knows what to do. We just give him encouragement; he picks up everything really, really fast, and doesn't need much more than a tiny hand signal to get it.

The hardest part is convincing him NOT to eat the sheep poop.

Courtney Milan said...

Miranda,

I've heard of Tamara Lejeune and seen her books in the stores, and now I have a reason to pick them up!

Thanks! I will!

Courtney Milan said...

Susan,

I also have to admit I'm waiting on Money, Honey. I've heard good things about that ever since Avery Beck said that she judged it in the Golden Heart!

Courtney Milan said...

PJ,

I'm reading Bev's book right now--in fact, it is what I fell asleep reading last night.

NOT to imply that it's sleep-worthy material at all--just that I didn't get enough sleep all weekend, what with New Year's and my friends coming in town for my release--and now that I'm old I can't make myself stay up any longer.

I'm loving it!

Courtney Milan said...

Hi Jeanne, and thanks for stopping by!

Sarah, Tessa Dare is one of my critique partners, and SURRENDER OF A SIREN is one of my very favorite books of hers--in part because it's dedicated to me. So I'm all about that book.

Courtney Milan said...

Hi Drew,

Yes, the Victorian sexual sensibilities were... famously weird.

And I love that, because famously weird makes for awesome stories!

Courtney Milan said...

Drew, on the agent thing:

I would never have been able to get the deal I did without my agent. There's just no question about it. Not only did my agent help me polish my manuscript before submission, but she got me reads--FAST--and did a bang-up job of making sure that I knew exactly what I was getting into. I might have sold if I'd submitted to publishers first, but I doubt I'd have gotten the push that I got from my publisher, or that I could have done it in as short a time as I did.

BUT. I also know people who would never have sold without submitting first to publishers.

So. I think you do whatever you can, and you cross your fingers and pray for the best.

Courtney Milan said...

Christina,

Tracy O'Hara is another one of my Pixie Chicks, and NIGHT'S COLD KISS is a great urban fantasy.

And hey, Aussies write great books, so why not read them all?

(Full disclosure: my beloved dog is an Australian Shepherd. Second full disclosure: Australian Shepherds aren't from Australia. They're descended from dogs brought over from the Basque, but they were bred in the US West, and apparently cowboys can't tell the difference between Spain and Australia.)

Courtney Milan said...

Margay,

I've read both Tracey Anne Warren and Janet Mullany. In fact, I paid vast sums of money for Janet Mullany's debut, which was hilarious!

Courtney Milan said...

PJ, awesome point about bookdepository! I had forgotten about them--but they also have Maralinga!

Except not in stock. Why, oh why, book gods, do you do this to me?

Deb said...

Congrats, Courtney on PBS; Gareth deserves his own story. :) As I told you on another blog, I really enjoyed "The Wicked Gift".

I have Melissa Mayhue's and Olivia Drake's on my TBR pile as well as yours. My TBR pile is quickly becoming a mountain since there are so many good reads out there now and coming up soon.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Courtney, welcome to the lair! I loved your call story and your book sounds wonderful.

I'd love to offer you suggestions for books, but I'm so far behind in my reading, that I wouldn't know where to begin.

Good luck with your book!

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Courtney! Congrats on your debut - I've heard fabulous things about Proof By Seduction and can't wait to read it :-)

Margay said...

Courtney, aren't they wonderful? Of course, we have a lot of wonderful authors on this blog, too!
Margay

catslady said...

Oh what a hard question. There are so many good books out there. You named a lot of my favorite authors. I would have to say any of Julie Garwood's historicals. For something newer I enjoyed "And then he kissed her" by Laura Lee Guhrke.

Cassondra said...

Hi Courtney, and welcome to the lair!

Huge congratulations on your amazing success! I have been ogling your cover for a while now. I love it. I think it's one of the best I've seen lately. It's compelling, and it's DIFFERENT. Different is good, I think.

As to what you should read....I'm not one to talk because I so seldom get to read for pleasure any more. Sad. I would suggest Susan Crandall (but she's contemporary romantic suspense) or Claudia Dain (you've probably read Claudia). Ask me tomorrow and it will be two DIFFERENT favorites. Both of these are keeper shelf authors for me.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! And I'd like to know what sparked your fortune teller idea for this book!

Tiffany Clare said...

The friendships I've made have been invaluable!

Thanks for the shout out.

Also, anyone who hasn't read Proof by Seduction, get thee to a bookstore pronto! Courtney is an amazing writer.(Okay, I haven't, BUT, I did order it, so it should arrive very soon)

Anna Campbell said...

Emmanuelle, I read Sarah's latest over Christmas too and it's fabulous, isn't it? And she writes the most delicious heroes!

Lynz, the purse sounds gorgeous. I think sometimes we have to fling prudence to the winds and just go with it. Aren't Annie's books fabulous? Which one is your favorite? I'd be hard put to pick one although I must say her most recent U.S. release BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INEXPERIENCED WIFE is definitely on my list. Yeah, I love the old hate into love story. It's one of those classic romance themes, isn't it? I think Sarah did it beautifully! And it was so interesting having an Olympic swimmer as the heroine - something really different. Actually I've only read The Angel by CN so I'm probably not the best person to ask. It was pretty clear that there were characters there who had featured in earlier stories but I didn't have any problems reading it as a stand alone.

Anna Campbell said...

Blodeuedd, I've got a Tessa Dare on the bedside table. It's probably next after the BON and the SEP which I started last night and I'm absolutely loving. It's another hate into love story by the look of it. Yum!

Helen, I have a picture of your house where it's really dark because the piles of books block out the windows and the light can't get in! Am I right?

Anna Campbell said...

Sharon, I've got both Sarah's Supers on my TBR pile (yeah, my books are taking over the house too!). Thanks for saying that about COS and I 100% agree with you about Christine's Wicked Little Game. It's a corker! Thanks for swinging by!

Fedora, Ann Aguirre is someone I've heard such great buzz about. She's definitely on my list!

Anna Campbell said...

Kirsten, the Mary Balogh in the anthology that Courtney was part of is absolutely lovely. Sounds like you're on a historical kick, my friend! Yay, you!

Dianna, so glad you enjoyed the novella. I thought it was gorgeous. I'll have to keep an eye out for the Kat Martins.

Anna Campbell said...

Anna, I adore First Lady. I noticed the excerpt at the back of What I Did for Love links to a story featuring Lucy from that book. Yay! Wow, that's some list you've got there!

Donna, I loved Courtney's call story too. As you say, she must have felt like she'd swallowed a lit stick of dynamite at the conference!

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Bronwyn! Actually you haven't stalked me nearly as much as you used to. I MISS IT! Snort! Thanks for the plug for the books - I'm so glad you enjoyed them!

Susan, congratulations on your release! And isn't Proof By Seduction, well, SEDUCTIVE? I loved it!

Anna Campbell said...

Miranda, I have to say I'd never heard of Tamara LeJeune. But with your recommendation, I'll definitely check her out. Someone else who writes hilariously funny Regencies is Janet Mullany. Love her books!

Susan, there were some fabulous releases out in December and January, weren't there? My credit card really worked extra hard!

Anna Campbell said...

Hi PJ! Great to see you here. We've got Beverley Kendall here as my guest on Thursday. Can't wait. I thought Sinful Surrender was great too. Isn't it delicious getting advance copies of wonderful books? I love the sound of the Robyn Carr - what an intriguing combo of characters.

Thanks, Jeanne! Glad you enjoyed it!

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Sarah! Great to see you here. Actually if you hang around the lair, you'll definitely find new authors to pick up. I blame my Banditas and their buddies for the fact that I've got about a million books to read! Definitely try Proof by Seduction. I think it's fabulous!

Ooh, Drew, love the sound of Seduced by a Stranger! Sounds right up my alley. I'll have to add it to the tottering TBR pile. And thanks for plugging Captive of Sin! Yay, you!

Anna Campbell said...

Drew, I thought Bronwyn's agent question was really interesting. I wasn't much of a subber (although I should have been - do what I say, not what I did!). But I was always a contest tart and one of the judges from a contest recommended me to her agent. Her agent took me on, yay. I'd started to submit stuff - largely because of contest finals and subsequent requests - but things for me really happened once I got an agent. I think you can guarantee that editors will look at your work with a serious view to taking you on if you've got a publisher. Which doesn't mean you need one. Christine Wells won the Emily and received a publishing offer as a result and found her agent AFTER that.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Christina, that is one HUGE Aussie fest you're having there. Isn't it great to have so many books out by local authors, and what a range! I can't wait to read your debut next September FORBIDDEN. I love the sound of a Roman Centurion and a Druid Princess!

Hi Courtney! Hurry up! Join the party. Here, have a margarita! And it sounds like you need one of Sven's massages after such a busy few days!

Anna Campbell said...

Courtney, I have questions. Unhand that cabana boy!

Firstly, I'd love to know more about Ned's story. Can you give us a bit of a peek?

Secondly, I'd love to know your thoughts about Fanlit and writing contests in general.

Anna Campbell said...

Courtney, one of the delicious things about The Wicked Gift is that there's this constant struggled between darkness and light in William's character. I love that in a hero - that complexity. He wants so badly to be a conscienceless rogue and he can't quite make it - luscious! Is that a hero archetype that appeals to you?

Janga said...

Hi, Courtney! I read EJ's new B&N column, and her comparison of Gareth to a gunslinger of the Old West sent me back to PROOF for a third reading. I'm seeing Gareth in a new light. :)

I'm reading The Secret of Everything by Barbara O'Neal (Barbara Samuel/Ruth Wind) whose books I always love. One of the things I am enjoying most is the rich sense of place in this book. I've never been to New Mexico, but TSOE evokes the setting so vividly that I feel as if I have.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Courtney, thank you for that. I'm so glad you loved Charis and Gideon. I just loved both of them. I loved how she was forced to grow up in a hurry and then had to fight for what she wanted and I loved how he was like gold purified by fire. Yum! That's definitely a hero archetype that appeals to me!

Please offer our apologies to the cat!

Maralinga has had a great reaction here. I wonder if it will make the States. The sad thing is I think readers would enjoy books set in Australia but the publishers believe there's no market for them.

Anna Campbell said...

Courtney, I had a look to where you can buy Helene's book (and it turns out it's a March release so I'm slightly ahead of myself - they must have changed the schedule when I wasn't looking). No real luck although I have a suggestion. There's a big internet bookseller called Booktopia that will definitely have the book - http://www.booktopia.com.au/newsletter-subscribe.ep You could subscribe to their newsletter and order the book when it's out.

Anna Campbell said...

Courtney, I love to read things in one sitting too which is why category romance or things like your novella are fabulous. And there are some mind-bogglingly good stories in the shorter books too! Would hate to miss out on that.

Oh, man, that's really horrible about having your bag stolen! Hugs!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Courtney, you're heading for world domination! Congratulations on all the foreign sales!

Lucky you with the Ann Aguirre!

I think lucky both of us with Tiffany's wonderful book THE SURRENDER OF A LADY! That's such a scorching read!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Margay, thanks for the recommendation. TAW is a lovely woman! And I've already had a rave about Janet Mullany!

Hellion, what a great list. I haven't read that Suzanne Enoch although I love her older titles. I love that trope of the hero thinking the heroine is gorgeous and nobody else seeing it - the book I'm currently writing has that as part of the set-up. Anne Gracie's The Perfect Rake is another favorite that uses that theme.

Anna Campbell said...

PJ, I just checked the Book Depository - they're my favorite bookstore as you know, partly because of the free postage. But they're not listing Helene's book yet which makes me wonder if they will. Australian releases don't necessarily go farther afield.

Hi Gwen! Lovely to see you here! Sometimes it's hard to choose what's next, isn't it?

Anna Campbell said...

Courtney, what breed is your dog? I had a Scotch collie growing up - that's what we call them here, Lassie dogs basically. And he never lost that herding instinct. We had to stop taking him on beach holidays with us because he used to herd my brother and I together and keep the wolves aka all other swimmers at a distance. And he was smarter than most humans I've met! ;-)

MsHellion said...

Anne Gracie's The Perfect Rake is another favorite that uses that theme.

I love all of Anne's stuff, but that one is definitely, definitely my favorite of all. For that reason.

~Drew said...

*Peeking in* I wonder if I can bring my two Irish hunk house-boys to the party, Liam and Lorcan, they come bearing gifts, some Bailey's Irish Cream! But sorry, I can't control their naughty Irish slang!

Seriously, thanks Courtney and Anna for the info on agents, it is a conundrum for a unpubbed, which path to take. I have heard pros and cons for each. How does one find an agent? Yellow pages? Internet? Smoke signals?
And...sitting comfortably with Lorcan and a Bailey's to hear about contests.
Have heard different opinions on that, too!

Anna Campbell said...

Courtney, we're ALL waiting for Money, Honey!

An Australian shepherd? I've never heard of that. Just looked up pictures. They're gorgeous, aren't they?

Hey, Courtney, did you find Maralinga at the BD? How cool!

Anna Campbell said...

By the way, what's the dog's name?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Deb, great to meet another Wicked Gift fan! Wasn't it refreshingly different?

Christie, I hear you about being behind on your reading. And it doesn't seem to stop me buying MORE books!

Anna Campbell said...

Beth, Courtney has a really strong writing voice and it makes that story absolutely leap off the page. Think you'll love Proof by Seduction!

Catslady, I adored Laura Lee Guhrke's AND THEN HE KISSED HER. One of my top reads of the year before last.

Anna Campbell said...

Cassondra, what an interesting question. Yes, Courtney, did you have to do any particular research for Jennie's character?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Tiffany, did you notice all the LURVE Surrender of a Lady is getting? Seriously, it's fabulous!

Ha ha, Janga! Seriously, I wish you lived next door. We'd only have to buy half the books we do and we could swap the others. I ADORE Barbara O'Neal's sense of place. I'm going to Colorado in July and her books are one of the things that have made me really excited to go. Her descriptions are breathtakingly beautiful. So glad you enjoyed Proof by Seduction. I think it's great! And Gareth is yummy. I love the buttoned up hero who has to risk everything for love!

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

What a great story on how Courtney was published and how she writes. :)

I can't wait for her next book. She is a very welcomed author for the historical romance genre.

Nancy said...

Courtney, welcome to the Lair!

I love your call story. I can't imagine how hard it must've been to keep mum until everything was nailed down.

Your story sounds wonderful. The interest in spiritualism of the Victorian era is, I think, under-utilized. And I love your hero's name. Gareth always evokes Arthurian chivalry for me, no matter what era the guy bearing the name lives in.

As for what you should read next, that's a toughie. My own TBR pile is in danger of taking over the house.

Anything pictured on our sidebar would be great. Venturing farther afield, Barbara Monajem's e-novella, Notorious Eliza, is terrific. I've almost finished it. Gerri Russell's To Tempt a Knight is wonderful historical adventure and has an element of mysticism. And Sabrina Jeffries' Don't Bargain With the Devil has a magician hero who's great fun.

Limecello, congrats on the rooster!

Anna Campbell said...

Hellion, I love Gideon's complete bewilderment when people refer to his lady love as 'plain'. It's gorgeous!

Drew, Irish hotties always welcome, especially bearing Bailey's!

Actually a great place to find out about agents selling in your field is Karen Fox's site - http://www.karenafox.com/romance_deals.htm She lists most romance deals and who made them. It's a great way to keep an eye on what's hot in the market too.

Anna Campbell said...

Kate, glad you enjoyed the interview! I had a great subject ;-)

Nancy, what an interesting list of books coming up for you. Actually I agree about the Victorian interest in spiritualism being underutilised. I love the way Possession by A.S. Byatt takes advantage of so many Victorian obsessions, including spiritualism.

Tiffany Clare said...

Anna!

I did notice the lurve for THE SURRENDER OF A LADY! Lurve feels good on a Tuesday :) Especially when I'm up to my eyeballs in paper.

And for the original question. I have no idea what Courtney should read next. I'm at a meh with reading. Read all four Hoyt's in a row, and now I'm just meh to touch anything else.

Courtney Milan said...

Deb, I keep seeing Olivia Drake's book in stores, and I really should pick it up one of these days.

Courtney Milan said...

Christie and Beth, thanks for the welcome, and catslady, I adore Laura Lee Guhrke--especially AND THEN HE KISSED HER, but her latest, WITH SEDUCTION IN MIND, was awesome.

Cassondra, I've read Claudia Dain, and she's doing some really awesome, subversive things with her books.

Anna, I totally need a margarita, and if I weren't at work....

Courtney Milan said...

Okay, Anna's questions.

First, more about Ned's story: Ned enters a marriage of convenience, only to discover that his wife is engaged in acts of charity that are righteous, moral... and utterly illegal.

It's set about three years after Proof by Seduction. And I would say more than that, but... you know. :)

I'll be posting an excerpt on my site in March.

Courtney Milan said...

Now, as to writing contests:

I have mixed feelings about them. First of all, the FanLit writing contest is what convinced me to write seriously for publication. Before then, I had pretty much written off the concept of being an author. Afterwards, I was motivated to go forward, and I had friends who were also motivated who kept me honest, and kept me writing.

But as for writing contests beyond that... A few times I got some good advice, but I also got a lot of really, really terrible advice. About half of the people who read the opening of PROOF BY SEDUCTION during writing contests thought it was unpublishable as written, because my heroine (they said) was unlikeable.

I had rejections from editors, and now that the book's been on shelves for about a week, I've had reviews and responses from readers, and Not. One. Person. has ever said my heroine is unlikeable. Not a single one.

I think some contest judges spend too much time applying rules and not enough time thinking about the story--and I know when I first started judging contests, I was EXACTLY the same way, so I don't blame them!

The truth of the matter is that most contest judges are unpublished, and so if you are close to publication, most of the people reading your work will be at a lower level of craft than you.

Incidentally: this book still finaled in contests--because for every person who hated the book I would get another person who gave it a perfect score--and here's a dirty secret: My agent sent the manuscript to TWO editors who'd seen it in contests. Neither requested the full nor ranked it first. BOTH ended up making an offer on the book.

There are some uses to contests--obviously!--but I sometimes hear people getting really discouraged because of bad contest results. I've been there, done that, and sold the book. So my advice to aspiring authors is to let contests ENCOURAGE you, but *never* to DISCOURAGE you.

Courtney Milan said...

Also, Anna, isn't Tiffany great? I loved her work in FanLit, but her first full length novel was just a work of art--so sexy and so gripping. I cannot WAIT to be able to buy that one!

Courtney Milan said...

Anna, my dog is named Pele, and he actually looks a lot like a Border Collie--he's all black and white without any of the copper trim that's distinctive to Australian Shepherds.

But that doesn't stop him! :)

Courtney Milan said...

Nancy, thanks so much for the comments! And I haven't read that Sabrina Jeffries yet--and I have no idea why not, since she's one of my autobuy authors. BAD Courtney! Gotta get it on the TBR pile as soon as possible!

Tiffany Clare said...

Okay... I think I'm blushing.

I keep seing Claudia Dain's name mentioned. I have two books of hers in my TBR (I think I bought them after one of her guest blogs on the Bandits) Hmmm... maybe I need to read that next?

Elyssa Papa said...

I was also involved in Fanlit and also was a finalist in that competition, and I am so grateful to Fanlit because of the friendships I've made. Courtney Milan is one of those friends, and I was very, very lucky to read PROOF BY SEDUCTION before she started querying agents. And I've since read it in published form. I've always loved PROOF. I've loved Jenny and Gareth, and just everything about that novel.

When I was struggling to find an agent and at a loss with my mss #2, buried forever under the bed, Courtney talked to me on the phone and offered me encouragement. When I didn't final in the GH, last year, again . . . Courtney was there for me, offering support. When I was looking for agents with mss #3, Courtney helped me with many situations and celebrated with me when my agent offered representation.

As everyone's coming to know, Courtney Milan is a fabulous writer. But more than that, she's an even greater friend.

And as to Tiffany Clare, who is my dear CP and best friend, her October 2010 debut THE SURRENDER OF A LADY is beyond fabulous. When Tiffany first started writing it and posted an excerpt, I immediately knew she would sell and that it was a game changer romance. I cannot wait for her book to come out. I know I'll cry when I hold her book in my hands, and when she gets all the fabulousness she deserves.

Congrats, Courtney!!!

Annie West said...

Thanks for the enthusiasm about my stories Lynz, Sharon, Courtney and Anna. You've made my morning! Thank you!

Courtney, I was going to add too that your dog would be right at home over here in Australia. We have sheepdog trials in a lot of country towns and at the big city shows (fairs) and they're fantastic to watch. Some of those dogs are just so clever.

Elyssa Papa said...

Oh and as to answer your question, right now I'm about to start Clockwork Heart, which is Steampunk. And I'm also on a J.D. Robb glom . . . seriously, how did I resist her books until now?!

Anna Campbell said...

Courtney, after the soccer star? What a great name for a dog!

Hey, Ely, what a fabulous post. You're so right about writing friends being the only ones who really GET it when you either receive good or bad news in this business. I'm eternally grateful for the friends I've made in romancelandia.

I'm astonished at the talent that came out of FanLit. And I'm sure there's more to hit the streets.

Snap on loving both PBS and Tiffany's Surrender of a Lady. Both fabulous reads!

Anna Campbell said...

Courtney, that's a really interesting take on contests. I think for some people they're great - for example, they kept me writing and the fact that I did pretty well, stopped me from drowning in a slough of despair. But you're right about having to be careful about what advice you take and what advice you don't. Interesting comments about Jennie - I didn't fine her at all unsympathetic. I like a woman who stands up and fights!

Keira Soleore said...

A huge congratulations once again (and again and again) to Courtney.

flchen1 said...

Oh, Courtney!! You lucky gal! I'm definitely looking forward to more Ann--are you CPs? How wonderful indeed! And hey, what's a little gloating among fellow book lovers? ;) Yay for you!

And yes, more Sarah!

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, it's a fabulous book, isn't it?

Fedora, I think most book lovers gloat at least occasionally! It's a forgivable offense!

Pat Cochran said...

The book currently at the top of
my to-be-purchased list is Anna
Campbell's Captive of Sin. From
what I've heard about this book,
I am recommending it to you and
to me!

Pat Cochran

Jane said...

Carla's "The Angel" is a great book. I started with her U.S. Marshal series and would recommend it anyone who love romantic suspense.

Lady_Graeye said...

Hello Ladies, Let's see what shouls you read nest? ? ? How about...
According to Jane by Marilyn Brant
Coming Undone by Lauren Dane
Captive of Sin by Anna Campbell
Dead Ringer by Mary Burton
Cold River by Carla Negger

Oh gosh, there are so many more i could list..but there are a few for you to think about. :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Pat, I can HIGHLY recommend Captive of Sin! I hear it's a doozy of a read. Hey, would you buy a used car from me? Snort! Thanks for mentioning Cos!

Jane, I really enjoyed the Angel. One of the things I really liked is that all the secondary characters were so vivid but didn't overshadow the actual romance. And the heroine is really strong and brave - always love that.

Anna Campbell said...

Lady Graeye (why do I always want a cup of tea when I see your posts?), that's a great list. Thanks for mentioning me!

Bronwyn said...

Did someone say the magic words?? Baileys is awesome and I just happened to pick up two boxes of Baileys chocolates last night at Coles left over from Christmas. Needless to say they didn't last long... Sorry should have shared =)

Anna, I got sick after xmas and I've been polishing like mad to get my historical ready for a mad contest explosion in 2010 so I lost track of you for a bit but don't worry I'll be back real soon!

Courtney, it's funny you said those things about comps and your heroine being unlikeable. I'm getting alot of that for my hero. I want to scream that its a dark novel and he's tortured! You wouldn't be nice to anyone in the room either if you'd been through what he has!! But I'm still entering. I really am a fan of competitions but now I only enter the ones with a final judge I need to be in front of.

Sarah Mayberry is without a doubt one of my fave Blaze authors. After reading her book once I had some questions about the HQN process and she was happy to answer me within a few days. I love authors who love their fans =)

Good luck with the release, Courtney. Anna, I'm eagerly awaiting My Reckless Surrender and will get right back to the stalking, with renewed vigour, in a week or so :D

Bronwyn.
(Who's off to put the final touches on a few Gems)

Lynz Pickles said...

Anna: fling prudence to the winds? I like that! And since buying it, I've come up with a reason why I need to: the flight down! Since we're not allowed to have real carry-on luggage right now, I'm bringing it instead. It's the biggest purse I have, so that's perfect! Mwah!

My favourite of Annie's titles is The Savakis Mistress. Much as I love her other books, (I'm a big fan of Blackmailed Bride, Inexperienced Wife, too!) for me, nothing beats Callie and Damon's story. I managed to win a copy of it, so I was able to read it, but I still wish it would come out in North America so I could get copies for my friends. The scene in the guest house is one of my favourite scenes in any book, ever.

I love the jobs Sarah gives her heroines! She's done an Olympic swimmer, a mechanic, a tatoo artist, a boxer... they're all so wonderfully unconventional. I'm always excited to see what she'll do next!

Donna MacMeans said...

Courtney - Thanks for the compliments on Mrs. Brimley. I had a great time writing that book.

Wow! My "to-be-purchased-immediately" list has tripled in size as the result of this discussion. Where am I going to put all these books? And what a wonderful dilemma to have!

Anna Campbell said...

Bronwyn, glad to know you'll be back lurking in my bushes soon! Good luck for the contest blitz!

Actually the other thing to remember with contests is that we have the whole book in our head and a judge sees usually only a portion (often only a first chapter). If the character has a long way to go (and they're the kind of stories I like!), they won't 'get' it in that space.

Anna Campbell said...

Lynz, glad prudence has come out to play! ;-) Bag sounds gorgeous!

Ooh, I loved Callie and Damon too. Right from the first luscious scene on the beach to the sigh-worthy ending. I loved how she stood up to him!

Donna, this discussion is death to the credit card, isn't it? But what a lovely way to go!

PJ said...

PJ, I just checked the Book Depository - they're my favorite bookstore as you know, partly because of the free postage. But they're not listing Helene's book yet which makes me wonder if they will. Australian releases don't necessarily go farther afield.

Anna, I searched under the book title (Border Watch) and they have it listed but show it as "not in stock." Hopefully, that will change as it gets closer to March.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, fab, PJ! I looked under Helene's name but clearly there's a sorting glitch. If it's not out here until March, they might be waiting on it. I've been dying to read this book since Helene first told me about it ages and ages ago.

Sue said...

Anna and Courtney,
Sorry I'm a bit late but like Bronwyn the ugly contest deadlines have reared their heads,
But just had to comment because I loved th einterview and early Victorian is my favorite era, too, and for all the reasons Courtney said.
So much change, so much turmoil, characters doing different things to the normal at that time.
Huge scope for writers with wild imaginations- bit like you two, Anna and Courtney!!
Good luck with the book,
Thanks,
Suzi

Virginia said...

A lot of the books I would love have been mentioned already! If you like the western romances try Elaine Levine's debut book Rachel and the Hired Gun. This is an awesome read.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Suzi, congratulations on your wonderful showing in the Emily Contest! Sounds like the contest blitz has already started for you! Thanks for swinging by - Courtney is very inspiring, isn't she? Good luck with your contests!

Anna Campbell said...

Virginia, I've heard a lot about Rachel and the Hired Gun. I'll have to check it out.

Louisa Cornell said...

Can't stay away, eh, Lime?

Hello to my Pixie Sister Courtney and the Incomparable La Campbell! What a great combo!

I am SO looking forward to reading Proof by Seduction! You've come a long way since our FanLit days, CM!

I just knew your sweet puppy was going to be a genius at sheep herding!

Reading suggestions? If you haven't already try the Sebastian St. Cyr series by C.S. Harris. Great writing and some great twists. I'm enjoying the series immensely.

And have you read Kelly Gay's The Better Part of Darkness? Great book!!

I'm looking forward to reading Beverley Kendall's Sinful Surrender too.

Non-fiction wise I am reading The Knife Man by Wendy Moore. Fascinating, but gory stuff!

Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Courtney... I love how they're using Madame Esmerelda from Proof by Seduction for promotion on the Harlequin site.

What to read? I'm reading some books by Linnea Sinclair right now. I love her kind of sci fi romance. I've also heard that the steampunk novel Soulless is great.

Don't put me in the drawing, as I already have my copy of Proof by Seduction.

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Barbara! I've heard great things about Soulless. I've never read Steampunk. Sounds like I should! Thanks for swinging by!

Gannon Carr said...

Sorry I'm so late to the party, Courtney. Congrats again!

Many books that I'd recommend have already been mentioned, but one that was probably one of the best books I read all year was THE SCHOOL OF ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS by Erica Bauermeister. It's straight fiction--or could be classified loosely as women's fiction--and is one of the most beautifully written books out there!

Courtney Milan said...

Whew! I was just gone--I wrote 2000 words (which is lovely for me) and then, as reward, I got to finish Beverley Kendall's SINFUL SURRENDER.

Which--since we are talking about other books--was AWESOME. I am telling y'all this even before I tell her!

I want to say that Ely has also been there for me all the way. I just adore her, and everything about her--and I know she's going to make a huge splash with the book she just got an agent with.

Friends are important. But talented friends are just a joy.

I've always said, the odds of getting published are small... but a lot of people DO end up getting published, despite those odds, and I firmly believe that all my friends can get published. So far, they've been doing an excellent job of proving me right!

:)

Courtney Milan said...

Anna, I know nothing about soccer, but when we got him he was already answering to the name, and we didn't want to confuse him anymore.

flchen1, I'm not critique partners with Ann--she writes at a frightening pace, and I could never keep up with her!--but I am friends with her and after I wrote her a gushing e-mail after reading SKIN GAME about how much I HAD to have Foster's book, she let me see a copy. In return, I let her read PROOF early.

It's nice to have author friends! :)

Courtney Milan said...

Bronwyn, I think there are some things that contest judges can say that you really should listen to:

"I don't understand why he's doing this" and "What does this sentence mean?" and "Huh? What just happened there?" are high among them.

But anytime I hear something like, "He is so unsympathetic! Nobody is ever going to like a hero who XXX!" I just think you should ignore it. Because if you are writing a huge character arc, you're going to start out with someone who is highly imperfect, and the question isn't "Can this man be the ideal hero NOW, at the beginning of the book?"

The other thing I think should be absolutely banished from the contest scoresheets is the line: "Is there enough conflict to sustain a book?"

Dude. How can you possibly tell that from the first chapter?

Courtney Milan said...

Virginia, I second your comment about Elaine Levine, and I have her second on my radar!

In that vein, I have been hearing *wonderful* things about Kaki Warner's debut, PIECES OF SKY, which comes out today. I'm definitely picking it up the next time I'm in stores.

Yay for new Westerns!

Courtney Milan said...

Louisa, I read Kelly Gay's book the first week it was out, and I LOVED it! So vivid and real and gritty--for those of you who don't know, it's an urban fantasy set in Atlanta, and the setting is dark and lush and very fantastic. One of the most original world building that I've seen, in part because it was half This World, Our World, with drug dealers and gritty, ugly truths, and half Another World, with magic and demons and angels.

Courtney Milan said...

Barbara, I also love Linnea Sinclair. Before I signed with my agent (in fact, before I decided I wanted her as an agent) I read a bunch of her author's works, to see if her style would work for me.

Linnea Sinclair was one of the ones I read, and to this day, I think of GAMES OF COMMAND as my favorite sci fi romance, ever. I just love Kel Paten.

*big thumping sigh*

Courtney Milan said...

Also, Barbara, SOULLESS is totally full of awesome. SOULLESS is another book represented by my agent, and it is full of win!

Anna, SOULLESS is a comedy of manners. Also vampires, werewolves, and dirigibles--but mostly manners. The premise is that Alexia Tarabotti, a Victorian-era spinster, has no soul; and that means that her touch negates supernatural activity. But then she meets a vampire (who talks with a lisp--damn those fangs!) who doesn't seem to realize this, and accidentally kills him with her parasol, and from there everything goes downhill.

It's steampunk, but it's not hard steampunk--it's light and frothy in the best possible way.

Anna Campbell said...

Gannon, that book sounds really interesting and I've never heard of it before. Oh, no, my aching credit card! ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Courtney, your buddies do seem to have that golden touch, don't they? I can't wait to see Ely in print! So glad you enjoyed Bev's debut.

Hey, everyone, don't forget Bev is my guest on Thursday! It's clearly my month to host awesome debut authors!

Anna Campbell said...

Louisa, how did you sneak in there without me seeing you? Sheesh! You're a slippery customer, my friend. I read the fourth C.S. Harris over Christmas and it's one of the best - Where Serpents Sleep. Just loved it! And I love the way she's developing Devlin's character. I'm someone who actually doesn't like endless books in a series (I know, shoot me now - and I realise I'm alone on this!) - but these offer new revelations at every turn and I'm absolutely hooked. Even to the point where I'm considering buying What Remains of Heaven in hardcover. Now that's serious fandom!

Anna Campbell said...

She kills a vampire with her parasol? Oh, I'm SOOOOO there! This sounds delicious, lisping vamps and all! I remember it got into the top five mass market paperbacks of 2009 on the Publishers Weekly list and for purely personal reasons, I've decided that's the most perspicacious list out there, snort!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, everyone, thank you for a BRILLIANT day in the lair. I knew you'd love meeting Courtney. And seriously, pick up PROOF BY SEDUCTION. You won't be at all sorry. And then rush and buy the Christmas novella - again, an absolute treat!

Don't forget to check back to see who won the signed copy of PBS!